The merger speculative talk about a possible XM and Sirius merger continues to stay red-hot.
There are many pros (reduced operating and competitive costs, larger OEM relationship network, etc.) and cons (FCC opposition, less competition no longer contraining subscriber fees, incompatible technologies, etc.). The Street.com's Jim Cramer loves the idea -- while Wall Street continues to speculate.
If it happens, the deal will have to happen soon (within the next 6-8 weeks, and approved by company stakeholders by this summer) if it is to pass through all the regulatory hurdles before the 2008 elections.
Bridge Ratings just released their updated subscriber projections (assuming the two companies don't merge), anticipating a total of 35 million subscribers by 2020. Here's their provided chart:Both XM Radio's CEO Hugh Pinero and Sirius Radio's CEO Mel Karmazin publically say they are not exploring combining the satellite radio into one company. Of course, that doesn't cover any possible private conversations.
If the merge did happen, who would win?
Joint Communications' CEO John Parikhal shares his thoughts on a possible XM and Sirius merger:
XM and Sirius have different programming philosophies. Sirius has more technical problems than XM. In a perfect world, XM would win.
But ... Mel Karmazin is a smart cookie. He's pushing for a merger to deflect the fact that Sirius is far behind XM. My bet is (I could be wrong) that he figures Wall Street will crown him to run any merged entity ... so he beats the merger drum.
Because ... XM has fumbled the marketing ball more than once. They have not created enough need. Which is what gives Mel his bully pulpit.
XM had a huge opportunity to grow during the early years of consolidation when the arrogant roll-up artists were bragging about how they could run 16 minutes of spots an hour on music radio. Where was XM with a "commercial free" ad campaign? Instead we got stupid TV ads with David Bowie crashing through the roof.
XM still shies away from "commercial free" music with lots of choice, choosing to promote second tier programming that has big names but little that is fresh or new. And ... much of the "talk" and news programming has commercials!! How many people are going to pony up $14 a month for Oprah's sidekick (Oprah is not really Oprah) or to listen to a golf match.
XM lost the chance to cripple if not kill Sirius when it raised its price to $14 a month from $10. They could have clobbered Sirius (before they hired Stern) by focusing on what a deal $10 a month was compared to Sirius $14.
Having said all this ... there's still a good business in satellite radio. There is a real market of between 20 and 25 million people for the product. It will coexist with terrestrial radio just as cable coexists with network.
Both companies need to focus on marketing, not personality stunting, if they are going to get the respect they deserve. They might take a page from the old Rolls Royce advertising strategy - who focused on those who already bought a Rolls - "reminded" them of how great their car was - tried to make others envious - used "emotion" to create the need.
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Saturday, January 27, 2007,
New media is slick. Sleek. Slippery fast. It changes our point of view of media and the world around us.
Change can happen so rapidly, it seems we slide onto the next-new-thing right away. Faster and faster. The loss of control as users decide how, what, when and where they use new media has content owners feeling out-of-control, with nothing slowing it down.
No brakes. No steering.
Kind of like watching this YouTube video of driving conditions on a hill after a Portland ice storm. The literal slippery slope. Careful: there are bumps and crashes ahead. The good news: some damages are repairable. Even so, some are not.
Change can be a slippery slope...slippery slopes do eventually reach an end point.
Where will new media take us next? And how can we steer clear of obstacles?
That's for media trend watching...
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Sunday, January 21, 2007,
Broadcast radio began ignoring teens right after Baby Boomers finally moved out of the demo 20 years ago. The only rare exception was the short-lived Alt Rock boom during the Grunge 90s. Yes, Top 40 radio still attracted teen listeners (what choice did they really have?). But, for the most part, radio strategically decided it needed grownup listeners in order to maximize revenues.
Teen radio listeners were accepted by default. Secondary. Most often, teen ratings have been viewed as a negative for a long time.
The rise of the Internet, file sharing, iPods, and Internet radio easily and quickly filled the void created by radio station ignoring teens. Now that the World Wide Web is 15 years old, an entire generation has grown up relying on the Internet, not radio.
What can radio do to begin connecting with current and future teens? And what do teens want?
Well, to start, radio can start appreciating, targeting and programming to teens. But, to do so, it needs to deliver ("broadcast") in a manner teens listen to their modern definition of "radio".
For teens, radio is a digital experience -- fluid, listened to in multiple formats, on multiple devices, time-shifted whenever they want to hear it.
Radio was the original "wireless". Today's teens think of "wireless" in a completely different way. Wireless means something to communicate with -- cellphones, texting, emailing, WiFi, WiMax, Internet-based, fully digital and fully listenable on any and every digital device they own.
Last September, Toronto became one of the first major cities where a major radio broadcaster launched a new radio format available not over the old airwaves...but through the Internet to be heard on the new free city WiFi services.
Here's another new example of what radio could (and should) look like in cities everywhere, as reported in InsideBayArea.com:
If a radio lover were featured on MTV's "Pimp My Ride", his or her car would look very much like the two Scion xBs that Clear Channel's new eChannelMusic was showcasing around San Jose earlier this week.Attitude. Mobile. Edgy. Street.
These were rolling radio stations, although they never use the word "radio".
They were WiFi Internet stations, programmed partly by listeners at www.echannelmusic.com with video screens, blaring waterproof speakers running 24/7, and a computer keyboard and screen and a large microphone in the back seat, from which street DJs could do commentary.
The $40,000 rolling studios are the first stations that the large Clear Channel radio company was programming without actual radio signals.
Remember when radio knew how to do that?
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Sunday, January 21, 2007,
Radio stations often encourage listeners to be stupid for ratings stunts. Somehow, they find listeners to do them...and get participants to sign waivers legally protecting station's ass(ets). But if something goes really wrong, is it worth doing the stupid promotion in the first place?
"Today's Hit Music" station 107.9 The End (KDND) in Sacramento just had a promotion that went to worst possible result: death.
The End's morning show wanted their listeners to "hold their wee" as long as possible while drinking bottles of water during a week-long promotion in order to win a new Wii. Cute premise and twisting of words...but one participant apparently died while competing due to a condition called "water intoxication". Of course, it is reported there is "at this point no clear indictation that there is a link" between the contest and the death. Even so, The End is now associated with it...and it gets broadcast around the world. Ooops!
For more on the story, click here.
(Jan. 16 update at 7pm): The Sacramento Bee reports it's "the end" to The End's Morning Rave show plus the station management responsible for approving the stunt, as the investigation continues.
(Jan 22 update at 6pm): This story only gets bigger. Lawsuits are filed and now seek to pursue revoking the FCC license of the "water death radio station".
Granted, this is a nation that will do just about anything to win a free Nintendo Wii.
By the way, this week's #3 top song at The End? The Fray's "How To Save A Life".
And how can you?
One suggestion might be: Don't participate in that kind of contest.
Write it down in your promotion book: Getting listeners to hold onto your wee (pee) in order to win a Wii is a bad idea (unless medically supervised).
The news report below:
Now, here's a better idea for a promotion radio stations still don't do enough despite 2006's explosion of user-generated content.
Get your listeners to make their own fan-created music videos of your format's hottest songs and submit them to YouTube, Break.com, Fark, the band's MySpace page, etc....and, of course, your own station's site.
For example, the new Barenaked Ladies song "Wind Me Up".
Terry McBride of Nettwerk Records loves this kind of stuff and wants you to do more of it. If The End had done this promotion instead...
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Saturday, January 13, 2007,
...Until he gets one shipped for free from Steve Jobs, of course.
Within 36 hours of Apple's MacWorld Expo presentation of the new soon-to-be-released iPhone, Cisco Systems slapped Apple with a copyright infringement lawsuit over the naming of the new product.
But did Cisco lose their rights last year?
Dealing with Cisco may be easy compared with Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report.
Every week, Colbert offers his top "Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger" observations on the do-gooders and not-so-do-gooders.
Did the iPhone earn a tip of the hat? No...both Apple and the iPhone earn the rare (and feared) double-finger-wag from a critical Colbert. Dropping "computer" from your name, he lectures, does not make you cool (hello now, Apple, Inc.). And integrating too many features into a single, easy-to-use platform takes away from the basic rule of life: Whoever dies with the most toys wins.
"The legends are true, it exists...the much feared double-wag" of his finger. The Apple iPhone left Colbert "flaccid with rage." Click here for the video or stream it below.
...Now, those of you "sporting wood" instead over the iPhone who don't want to wait until June can at least spruce up your Treo with iPhony, which converts the Palm OS "look" to the iPhone look...
...For a closer look at the iPhone, click here.
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Saturday, January 13, 2007,
January 9th turned out to be quite the media day.
Howard Stern started off the day celebrating one year satcasting his radio show on Sirius radio, complete with omelet bar and plenty of bagels for Artie Lange.
Stern's one-year impact? Certainly a major contributer to Sirius subscriber gains of more than 2.8 million new listeners. Which explains Stern's huge stock reward announced today worth an estimated $83 million.
Stern's also much happier censoring himself instead of being verbally shackled by the FCC, allowing him to deliver radio that is "free-form, free-flowing, one big party." Stern's satellite success has brought Sirius plenty of new sat radio listeners and, according to Mel Karmazin, $300 million more than Wall Street originally forecast for Stern's first year. But, Newsday asks, at what cost?
Whatever. The King of All Media is better than ever.
And CBS Radio was left reeling, as explained by the NY Daily News. Today's Fall ratings book results began rolling out today; the Stern-escape effect still shows.
Meanwhile, looks like HD Radio may be benefiting due to Stern's move to satellite radio. According to Forbes.com, the major disruption in morning radio habits once Stern left forced listeners to consider new options. Some went to Sirius or XM or just another terrestrial radio station. But, now that prices have dropped and more formats have been made available, some radio listeners are beginning to check out HD Radio, including at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Will HD Radio (now with 1,200 stations available and increasing) eventually challenge satellite radio's position?
Speaking of new electronics...
The annual MacWorld Expo trumped the CES getting all news outlets talking while also giving Steven Jobs some TV time on ABC's World News with Charlie Gibson. ABC News got two-minutes alone using the brand new Apple iPhone, which won't be released for sale until June.
That hasn't stopped iPhone envy, impressing fans with the sleek design which promises to "reinvent the phone". Many are thrilled with this latest example showing the genius of Apple design.
Although Cisco apparently isn't too happy.
Jobs countered previous speculation suggesting iTunes sales were slowing down. In fact, he says, iTunes has now sold more than two billion songs, 50 million television episodes and over 1.3 million feature-length films have been purchased and downloaded from the iTunes Store, making it the world's most popular online digital media store.
And now, AppleTV (or iTV) will be coming to a living room near you, too.
Speaking of mobile phones, Yahoo! inked new Mobile 2.0 distribution deals with a variety of wireless providers for its newly enhanced mobile product Yahoo Go for Mobile 2.0, as well as a newly launched mobile search platform, dubbed oneSearch.
Lastly, fresh-back-in-session Congress led by the Democrats formerly introduced a new Net Neutrality bill, which is good news for all media trend watchers.
Lots of media news with potential long-term impact. Wonder what the new media landscape will look like one year from now?
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Tuesday, January 09, 2007,
The explosion of social networking sites defines today's Web 2.0. How do these online gathering places get popular? According to a new research report by Yahoo! and comScore Networks, it only takes a few key vocal individuals to spread the word.
Turns out it's exactly like that famous TV commercial for Faberge Organics shampoo from the late 70s (yes, with Heather Locklear): "If you tell two friends...they'll tell two friends, and so on..and so on...and so on..."
MySpace first friend (and co-founder) Tom Anderson is a prime example of how "pass it along" online recommendations work...at least among his 139 million "friends".
Dubbed "Brand Advocates", these online consumers spread opinions via word of mouth, as well as over social networks, instant messaging, chat, photo sites and blogging. Such advocates have at least a two-to-one rate of converting a "friend" to buy the same exact product or brand they support, according to the report.
These advocates serve as online megaphones allowing advertisers to reach larger audiences.
The study found that Brand Advocates are slightly younger, more educated and spend more time online than do non-advocates.
They conduct an average of 48 searches per month, compared to 39 searches for non advocates; and 76 percent of advocates use search engines to research products prior to making purchases, compared to 64 percent of non-advocates. The more time and effort these advocates put into their own decision making process, the more they talk about their purchases with others.
The study also found that advocates are generally positive in their opinions, with not much bad mouth-mouthing. It says 60 percent of advocates believe that good brands are worth talking about versus 25 percent of non-advocates. Advocates also spend their time promoting a brand more often than negating it, and approximately 90 percent write something positive about a purchase they made.
Another study clarifies "younger" for these Brand Advocates, stating that 40- and 50-something female Boomers are the Advocates spending the most time making recommendations to their friends and the online "friends".
Apparently, they took those shampoos ads to heart.
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Tuesday, January 09, 2007,